No matter where you are in your homeschooling journey, you are probably looking for ways to give your kiddos an effective learning experience. Am I right? The hours spent trying to find the right curriculum, the Pinterest boards filled with “maybe I’ll try this” pins, not to mention the countless Facebook groups you’ve joined aren’t for nothing!
One approach to homeschooling that has won me over is this one: unit studies. Unit studies have picked up a lot of momentum in the homeschooling community, and rightfully so. This is one of the best methods I have come across that not only gives your children the hands-on experience and discovery, but it also gives you the control of planning activities that lead to effective homeschool learning — so effective that studies show that children who use the unit study method are likely to retain 45% more than by using a traditional approach!
While this sounds amazing, what often stops homeschooling parents from truly basking in the benefits of this method is the how-to. That’s why I not only want to tell you the perks of using unit studies, I am going to share how to plan a unit study the super easy way, plus give examples of how multiple subjects can be integrated into a single unit study topic.
Super Easy Unit Study Planning
First things first: pick a unit study topic. Don’t think too hard about this step. Choose something and roll with it. For the sake of this example, let’s go with Oceans. This has been a big hit in my homeschool, from the 5th grader down to the 2-year-old toddler – another perk of unit studies!
Next, choose how long you want this unit study to run. Unit studies can be a week long, or even last a month (or longer). This is totally up to you. If you see your kids are really enjoying the unit study, don’t hesitate to extend it! Our unit study on oceans lasted about two weeks.
Now you’re ready to pencil down some activities. This part does take a little work, but it is totally worth it. It is also rewarding on the purse, too, because you can find TONS of freebies to use. Further down I’ll share an example of how our Oceans study can touch several subjects, but for now keep in mind that here is where you’ll do most of your planning.Studies show that children who use the unit study method are likely to retain 45% more than by using a traditional approach.Click To Tweet
While you’re penciling activities, you may also want to jot down some books to pick up at your public library (great way to homeschool frugally). Check out what your local town, or surrounding areas, have that you can use for a field trip and add those to the list. And don’t forget about YouTube and Netflix. If you’re a techy kind of homeschool, you can almost always find a family-friendly video or documentary to incorporate into your plans.
Last but not least, don’t forget to brainstorm any supplies you may need. This is anything from supplies for arts and crafts purposes, or resources for if you plan to create notebooks or lapbooks, which are a great way to enhance learning and have a finished product to show off.
And that’s it, mama! Anything else you want to add is totally up to you.
One Unit Study Topic, Seven Subjects
As promised, I want to break down how you can take one unit study topic and touch multiple subjects.
Let’s look at a typical breakdown of subjects, using our Oceans study as an example.
- Literature: Read stories such as The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor (for younger kiddos) or Octopus: Phantom of the Sea (for older kiddos).
- English/Language Arts: Complete copywork, write stories or poems about oceans.
- Science: Learn about the classification of oceans.
- Geography: Look into the different oceans, where they are located, down to the different layers of the ocean.
- Vocabulary: Introduce and learn new words, such as the names of the ocean and their attributes.
- History: Research the history of how certain people groups used the ocean for food, travel, etc.
- Bible: Read Scripture and stories about the ocean (especially Yeshua walking on it!).
Super easy, right? And this is just a start! There are so many more activities and resources that can be used to extend a unit study for days, weeks, even months! Just keep in mind that you can make it whatever you need it to be for your unique family dynamic. There is really no wrong or right way to incorporate unit studies into your homeschool routine. The best piece of advice I can give is be flexible, listen to your kiddos, and have fun!
If you’re looking for a no-sweat, super easy (and free) unit study planning printable, click here!
CHIME IN: Are you already using unit studies in your homeschool? If so, what are some of your favorites? Tell us in the comments below!
Michelle Huddleston is an active plancrastinator (planner and procrastinator) who homeschools four amazing blessings. She can be found blogging and creating curriculum resources at With the Huddlestons. Founder of one of the fastest growing virtual homeschool communities, Michelle is passionate about providing resources for today’s homeschooling families while helping mamas live unapologetically authentic. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube!
If you enjoyed this post, please check out the other posts in this series!